Over 40 Eye Makeup Guide

Some say bold and beautiful eye makeup isn’t part of a post-40 beauty repertoire.

That’s silly. Women over 40 should rock bold eye makeup. We can do so with flair, confidence, and panache (that youth simply can’t buy).


The skin around our eyes changes as we age. It stands to reason that our makeup strategy will need tweaking as skin matures.

Adapting doesn’t mean stepping away from bold looks. It means getting smarter about how to achieve them.

Stick around to explore the fun, fabulous, and fearless world of post-40 eye makeup.

Ish Mom shimmery post 40 eye makeup look
My typical “shimmery” look

Understanding Over 40 Eye Skin

Mature eye skin is like vintage lace—lovely and easily shows signs of wear.

Post-40, skin tends to lose elasticity, moisture, and collagen, making fine lines, wrinkles, and sagging appear more prominent.

This new geography makes it trickier to use standard eye makeup products in the same way we always have.

But fear not! We can work with this.

The first step is skincare. It’s newly important to prep the “canvas” (that persnickety eye area) for makeup masterpieces.

Skincare Tips For Over 40 Eye Makeup

Properly prepping skin can make a world of difference in how eye makeup looks and wears throughout the day.

Ish Moms Favorite Eye Makeup Removers
My favorite eye makeup removers

Get it clean. First, make sure the eye area is makeup free every night. Letting even a pinch of makeup remain could irritate the delicate skin. Which will definitely make fine lines more pronounced.

Use a gentle makeup remover specifically designed for the eye area. It’s important to remove impurities without stripping away moisture.

Ish Mom Recommends:

Layer products. I like to use an eye serum and an eye cream.

Pat both on (gently!) with the ring finger. Apply eye serum, then face serum, then eye cream to give the eye serum a chance to dry down and sink in.

Ish Mom Recommends:

Hydration is your best friend. Use a hydrating eye cream every morning.

Look for products containing hyaluronic acid and/or ceramides. These help plump skin, reducing the appearance of fine lines.

Ish Moms Favorite AM Skincare For Eyes
My AM eye skincare routine

Ish Mom Recommends:

Don’t skip on the sunscreen. UV damage can accelerate aging, opt for an eye cream with SPF or ensure your facial sunscreen is safe for use around the eyes.

Ish Mom Recommends:

Consider using a retinol eye cream at night. Retinol increases cell turnover, improving the texture and tone of post-40 skin.

Word of warning: start with a low amount and work your way up. Consult a dermatologist if you have sensitive skin.

Ish Mom Recommends:

Ish Mom Favorite PM Skincare for Eyes
My PM eye skincare routine

Seal it in. I started slapping on reusable eye patches this year, and they are a game changer.

After the last application of eye cream, place eye patches over the undereye area, and leave it on for 5 to 10 minutes.

Ish Mom Recommends:

Taking care of the eye area skin is essential for over-40 eye makeup looks.

Why Change A Perfectly Good Eye Makeup Routine?

The biggest reason to change an eye makeup look post-40? Disappearing features.

Yeah. Aging eyes start fading into the rest of the face.

Eyebrows and lashes thin, messing with the framework of the upper face. Increasing fine lines disguise the natural eye crease. And collagen loss leads to eyes looking more sunken.

But that’s fine. Makeup can be used to point out fading eye features.

Ish Mom bare lid post 40 eye makeup
My typical “bare lid” (it is not really bare!!) look

Three Big Changes To My Post-40 Eye Makeup Routine

I’ve changed my eye makeup routine in three ways: product type, using more products (but strategically!), and application method.

Ish Moms Favorite Stick Eyeshadows
I’m more of a stick eyeshadow girlie these days

I Broke Up With Powder Eyeshadow…

Powder eyeshadow recently began…looking weird on my hooded, ever-wrinkling eyes. So I tossed my powder eyeshadow palettes.

I’ve moved on to cream and stick eyeshadow. They sit much better on that brittle, hooded area, without accentuating texture and fine lines.

And they’re so much faster/easier to apply and blend!


Just swipe straight from the tube and blend with your finger. I usually do just one color, but these products layer easily.

If you’re feeling fancy, blend a lighter color on the lid and a darker color in the outer corners.

Ish Mom Recommends

Ish Moms Favorite Cream Eyeshadows
Or a cream! I love these and they actually firm the eyelid.

…But Not With Shimmer

Note that I’m using the word shimmer, not glitter. I’m talking very fine particles, nothing chunky (that kind of formula will gunk up in fine lines).

I’m using more shimmery products than ever before.

I prefer liquid shimmer, the kind applied with a doe foot applicator. This formula acts like a filter on the eyelid, filling in fine lines and being an overall distraction.

dear dahlia liquid shimmer eyeshadow
My beloved Dear Dahlia liquid shimmer


Apply straight from the tube! Start with a small dab and blend towards the outer corner of the eye. Let the product dry between coats.

Word of warning: be sure not to apply shimmer too high on the lid. It needs to stay below the crease. Shimmer can highlight texture, magnifying every fine line or sagging surface.

Ish Mom Recommends

Use More Products…

In my twenties, I used fewer eye makeup products but took more time to complete a look. (Using 3-5 shades of powder eyeshadow will do that.)

Since turning 40, I’ve been using more products around my eye area, but taking less time.

Ten years ago, a rose gold cut-crease look would immediately catch one’s attention: “Oh, cool, I love your eyeshadow!”

At 40, using more products, more subtly, people (women) squint and go, “Oh, how pretty! Are those your real eyelashes?”

less is more

…But Apply Less, And Strategically

But, even with adding more products, I’m using less. Cuz my skin no longer takes kindly to layering products.

This means that I’m only using dabs of undereye brightener, and then concealer. Only one coat (no, really, you’ll catch yourself trying to add more) of mascara primer.

Otherwise, my undereye area looks spackled (thanks slower skin cell turnover!), or my eyelashes look too spidery.

In my 40s, I use less makeup, in more places, to point out fading eye features. Eyeliner comes in particularly handy for bulking up (without weighing down like powder eyeshadow!) aging eyes.

New Products For My Over-40 Eye Makeup Look

I would have scoffed at using these products ten years ago. Now? They’re increasingly necessary.

too much concealer
This only works on people in their 20’s

Undereye Area

The days of triangle concealer is over. If I used that much concealer now, sure, dark circles would disappear. But texture and fine lines would be way more prominent. No, thanks.

Now I strategically layer two undereye products: a brightener and concealer (two kinds of concealer, even!).


First, I use my ring finger to apply a bit of undereye brightener, focusing on just the inner corners. Then, I use an itty bitty concealer pencil to “fill in” undereye circles.

As I age, there’s a tiny (but increasingly noticeable) valley between my undereye area and the top of my cheekbone.

The tip of the concealer pencil fits perfectly within this divet; I literally color it in. Then, I tap (more than blend or swipe) the products into place with a small concealer brush.

The goal is for both the inner corner (and just the inner corner!) to look brighter, while the cheekbone and undereye area blend more seamlessly together.

Some days, this is the last step! But, most days, I need more help evening out my skin tone. So I’ll apply a cream concealer over these products with a small stippled brush.

Ish Mom applying pencil concealer

Don’t Go Too Light (Shade-Wise)

Notice I said “even out my skin tone” and not “brighten my skin tone.” Most of us were taught to use a shade lighter than our skin tone for the undereye area. But that advice is for young people.

At this juncture, undereye concealer should match skin tone to best do its job (and look more natural). Post-40, a lighter shade of concealer only highlights darkness and texture.

Ish Moms Favorite Undereye Products
My favorite undereye products

Ish Mom Recommends

Eyelid Area

In my twenties, I rarely used eye shadow primer. These days (despite not using powder eyeshadow!) I never skip a good priming.

Eye makeup products are more likely to slide around on aging eyes. And I really need everything to stay in place. Even if it’s just cream contour.

Yes, you read right. Due to a disappearing eye crease, I contour my eyes; a little swipe in my crease.

Just as I rarely primed the eye area in my youth, I rarely bothered to set it, either. However, using a blurring powder hides fine lines and ensures these products stay put.

Ish Moms Favorite Eyelid Products
My favorite Post-40 Eyelid Products


I use my ring finger to apply half a pea-sized amount of primer on each eyelid, blending towards my eyebrows.

I love the size of the e.l.f. Halo Contour wand. I glide it from one side to the other in my crease, blending with a face contour/eye crease brush or just my finger.

When eyelid products are dry, I carefully pat my undereye and eyelid with a small concealer brush dipped in powder.

Ish Mom Recommends

Lashes and brows

Previously, I’d slap on one coat of regular mascara, maybe run a clean spoolie brush through my brows. But, just like the hair on our head, lashes and brows thin with age.

Show off natural lashes with tightlining, mascara primer, and careful mascara application. (We’ll talk about growth serums soon.)

eyelash curler and RMS peptide mascara
Shu Uemura eyelash curler and RMS peptide mascara


Using primer builds up sparse lashes so much better than mascara alone. Also, my lashes don’t hold a curl like they used to. Primer helps.

I carefully apply one coat of mascara primer. You will be tempted to use primer like mascara. Do not. I mean just. one. coat.

Follow primer with a few coats of mascara. Using a small, plastic eyelash brush to separate lashes once products are dry.

Then, I tightline (a necessary but intimidating step!).

The Importance of Tightlining

“Tightlining” is where you apply eyeliner directly to the roots of lashes. Not above (that’s regular eyeliner), but directly in there.

Yes, that means putting the pencil very, very close to your eyeball. But there’s just no better way to highlight thinning lashes. Extra color at the base of lashes gives an illusion of extra thickness.


Ish Mom Recommends

Eyebrow and Lash Enhancement after 40

At our age, we can’t talk about eyebrows and lashes without mentioning enhancement.

Post-40, brows thin, disappearing into the forehead. Which is a real bummer, well-defined eyebrows help frame the eyes and face.

Listen, if eyes are the windows to the soul, then eyebrows are the curtains and eyelashes are the sashes. We don’t want them to be raggedy.

You may be tempted to hide thinning eyelashes with false eyelashes. I understand the urge, but use caution on post-40 eyelashes. Too many false sets and you’ll damage your real ones.

Try changing the way you do your brows, apply mascara, and add growth serums first.


As my brows thin, I spend more time penciling them in with short, careful strokes. Post-40, eyebrow glue is non-negotiable. I don’t want those babies to move, that’ll just re-expose the sparse parts.

Ish Moms Favorite Brow Products
My favorite brow products: e.l.f. Brow Lift, NYX The Brow Glue, e.l.f. Instant Lift Pencil, RMS Beauty Back2BrowPencil

Ish Mom Recommends

Mastering Post-40 Eyeliner

Abandoning powder eyeshadow doesn’t mean I’ve abandoned color. That’s where eyeliner comes in.

My signature eye look has become a bare (or slightly shimmery) lid with a swipe of pigmented eyeliner above my lashes.

I don’t do any particularly tricky looks, but don’t that stop you. Maybe the whole Foxy eyeliner trend will look good on your eye shape.

victoria beckham satin kajal eyeliners

Eyeliner Type

Gel and pencil eyeliner flatter my post-40 eyes better than other formulas.

I loved the staying power of liquid eyeliner, but now I find that it doesn’t dry quickly enough for my (increasingly) hooded eyes. The slightest movement and it smears.

Victoria Beckham kajal eyeliner is my favorite at the moment. It’s a pigmented powerhouse that blends easily. That makes it ideal for my fine lines: I can use just a bit and the formula glides right over them.

I own several colors from that line, switching them up depending on what eye feature I want to highlight. Purple for the green in my eyes, navy for the blue, and brown to make lashes look naturally thick.

Look up what hues flatter your eye color for a subtle eye-catching effect sans eye shadow.

Ish Mom Recommends

Don’t Forget The Nude One

I know, I’m adding another product I never would have used in my 20’s and 30’s.

But tightlining my lower lid with a shimmery nude pencil makes me look refreshed. Pink and peach nudes look good on me, your ideal color depends on your coloring.

Ish Moms Favorite Nude Eyeliner
My favorite nude, shimmery pencil

Ish Mom Recommends

Eyeliner Application Tips

Practice makes perfect! Try new eyeliner styles, application methods, etc, in the evening, right before washing your face.

No harm, no foul if you mess up; you’ll be washing it off anyway.

Don’t be afraid to involve both hands. It might be necessary to use the non-dominant one to (gently!) pull back sagging skin for a smooth application.

Here are some other tips and tricks:

  • If black eyeliner is looking too harsh these days, opt for chocolate brown, navy, olive green, or plum
  • Don’t line the whole eye: if lining under lower eyelashes, go less than halfway across the eye (lining the entire undereye makes eyes appear smaller)
  • If you’ve got good eye makeup remover, start using waterproof formulas
  • Without good eye makeup remover, waterproof formulas are too hard to get off, the tugging and wiping required can damage the aging eye area
  • Don’t forget the inner corner highlight!
  • When tightlining, really wiggle the pencil between lashes (to better define them)


Post-40 eye makeup is less about dimming your sparkle and more about refining your shine. Remember, being more restrained with makeup choices doesn’t strip away the fun—it opens a new avenue to play with elements like colored mascaras and eyeliners that might have been intimidating before.

This lighter, more tailored approach to post-40 eye makeup is more flattering and saves time—a precious commodity at any stage of life.

I’m eager to see how my routine evolves when I step into my 50s. Our makeup journeys are personal and ever-changing; please experiment with these tips and share your outcomes (don’t forget to tag me!).

Ish Mom Post 40 Eye Makeup
My eye makeup is ALMOST as effortless as it seems

Want More?

Need some more makeup and skincare content? Check these articles out:

You Tell Me

How has your makeup and skin routines changed over the years? Let me know, I’m curious.

Happy aging gracefully!


megan imhoff
Picture of Megan


Megan writes everything on Ish Mom. She possesses a bachelor's degree in psychology, a flair for theatrics, and a whole lotta nerve. She lives in the Midwest (and loves it) with her wonderful husband and three young boys.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Sign up and get exclusive content not shared anywhere else!